The Indian cricket team’s 10-wicket loss against arch-rivals Pakistan in the T20 World Cup 2021 in UAE has had a direct impact on the sales of fancy sports goods at Kolkata's famous Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy Market, popularly known as Maidan Market in the Esplanade region.
India crashed out of the T20 World Cup at the group stage and the public response to the ongoing India vs New Zealand T20 series has been lukewarm by Kolkata's standards. Sunday evening, the third T20 international between India vs New Zealand will be played at the famous Eden Gardens, barely 500 metres away from the Maidan Market.
In normal times, the area around Maidan market would be buzzing with activity but the more than five-decade-old market now wears a deserted look.
If COVID crippled business in 2020, India's T20 World Cup 2021 performance did not help the shopkeepers at Maidan Market, who sell T-shirts of almost all national teams and top international clubs.
It is said that Maidan Market is the hub for counterfeit jerseys. Earlier, they used to be imported from South-east Asia, mainly Bangkok, but now with the advancement of technology and printing, the shirts are manufactured locally and sold at cheap rates.
“Till October 23, the sale was good. We’re selling around 40-50 jerseys per day. But after India lost on Sunday (October 24) against Pakistan, the sale dropped sharply,” Mohammad Yusuf, owner of Zoya Sports, told Outlook.
FALL IN SALES
“Soon after India’s T20 World Cup 2021 jersey was revealed, we brought the stock and the response was very good. But with India losing against Pakistan and then New Zealand, the craze for replica jerseys went bust. Nowadays we sell hardly three-four jerseys in a day,” said Yusuf, who is running his stall in the Maidan market for the past 22 years.
Imteyaz of Roshni Sports said: “The Covid-19 pandemic hit us badly and then for the last two two years, no big teams play in Kolkata, be it in cricket or football. It has impacted our business. Even IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders have not played at the their home ground in Eden in the last two seasons.
Kolkata has off India's sports map in the last two years. If KKR have not played for a while here, the city's famous football teams - ATK Mohun Bagan and East Bengal - have been playing in Goa due to bio-bubble restrictions. Most football lovers watch the matches digitally and the fun of going to a stadium wearing the club's colours have gone.
GOOD TIMES, BAD TIMES
“Earlier during good times, we would have sold around 150-200 replica jerseys in a day. But now, there is nothing. No takers nowadays. There is also no craze for India vs New Zealand match too,” added Imteyaz.
Mushtaq Ahmed of Wasi Sports didn’t even know that India were playing New Zealand at the Eden Gardens.
“Mujhe abhi aapse pata chala ki India ka match hai (I came to know from you that India is playing at Eden Gardens on Sunday),” said Mushtaq.
Mushtaq also lamented that even if Eden Gardens got around four-five IPL matches this year, things would have been better for them. “We would have recovered our losses endured last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Mushtaq. But IPL was held in UAE in 2020 and 2021.